American Dance Guild

31 West 21st Street

On a wintry January afternoon in 1956, 12 dance teachers gathered at New York's 92nd Street YM-YWHA after an annual conference on teaching children creatively. The 12 felt that the event was too good to occur only once a year. It had provided an oppo... more

On a wintry January afternoon in 1956, 12 dance teachers gathered at New York's 92nd Street YM-YWHA after an annual conference on teaching children creatively. The 12 felt that the event was too good to occur only once a year. It had provided an opportunity to see master teachers demonstrate their work with children and share with each other ideas, problems, and resources. Thus was born the Dance Teachers Guild, the forerunner of the American Dance Guild. From the beginning, the Guild was concerned with serving both the dance community and the general public. At that first meeting, participants talked about the need to develop standards for teaching modern dance and ballet, the need to educate the public about the value of dance for children, the importance of integrating dance into the public-school curriculum, the need for standards in teachers' working conditions, the need for a library of films, books and articles on teaching dance, and the need for a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. The Guild grew rapidly. In New York, chapters were established in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, and eventually, in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Wo... more

On a wintry January afternoon in 1956, 12 dance teachers gathered at New York's 92nd Street YM-YWHA after an annual conference on teaching children creatively. The 12 felt that the event was too good to occur only once a year. It had provided an opportunity to see master teachers demonstrate their work with children and share with each other ideas, problems, and resources.

Thus was born the Dance Teachers Guild, the forerunner of the American Dance Guild. From the beginning, the Guild was concerned with serving both the dance community and the general public. At that first meeting, participants talked about the need to develop standards for teaching modern dance and ballet, the need to educate the public about the value of dance for children, the importance of integrating dance into the public-school curriculum, the need for standards in teachers' working conditions, the need for a library of films, books and articles on teaching dance, and the need for a forum for the exchange of ideas and information.

The Guild grew rapidly. In New York, chapters were established in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, and eventually, in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Workshops and seminars were initiated by chapters to respond to local needs.

A newsletter and a scholarly journal were started: American Dance carried news of member activities, reviews, and articles to help members share ideas and resources. The journal, Dance Scope, beginning in 1965 under its first editor, Marcia Siegel, and continuing for 16 years, published acclaimed articles and interviews by and with world-class dance figures. Selected back copies of Dance Scope are still available. American Dance has suspended publication temporarily. A bi-annual Newsletter was inaugurated in January 1999.

As the Guild grew it welcomed all dance professionals. In time, the membership included individuals and organizations from nearly every state and from abroad and included performers, choreographers, writers, historians, critics, accompanists, therapists, notators, and educators at all levels.

Of the many committed and creative people who started and nurtured the Guild, two stood out: Lucile Brahms Nathanson and Bonnie Bird. Ms. Nathanson was the director of the Y's dance program. Ms. Bird was a noted dance educator. Together they led the organizers in founding and guiding the new organization.

The Guild has always reflected members' needs, forming three divisions for teachers and another for choreographers and performers. It has reached out to other organizations and has helped with the establishment of new groups. Guild leaders were involved in the formation of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA), the Dance Critics Association (DCA), the Committee (now Congress) on Research in Dance Committee (now Congress) on Research in Dance (CORD), and the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS). Today the Guild has reciprocal collegial benefit arrangements with the aforementioned organizations as well as the National Dance Association (NDA), the Dance Notation Bureau, the Florida Dance Association, the Sacred Dance Guild, . The Guild participates jointly in events with these and other organizations.

Over the years the Guild has conducted workshops, seminars and annual conferences. Activities for members and others have included receptions, dance-film evenings, book signings, pioneer evenings, and concerts, including the New Dance Group Gala Concert from which came a widely distributed educational videocassette. Each year the Guild gives an annual award to honor a major contributor to dance, and also offers the Fannie Weiss Student Scholarship for summer study.


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31 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 627-3790
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